Take a chilled guess

Alaska participates in the biggest guessing contest to guess the exact date and time the ice will break up on the Tanana River 

FAIRBANKS: The practice of betting knows no borders. In Alaska, entries for the biggest guessing contest — Nenana Ice Classic — close today. Thousands of people every year pay to try to guess the exact date and time the ice will break up on the Tanana River in Nenana. Each guess costs a $2.50 ticket.

Cable
Every year, a clock is connected by cable to a wooden tripod anchored in the river ice about 300 feet from shore of Tanana River. pic/AP

The most recent ice thickness measured about 35 inches. Each year, a clock is connected by cable to a wooden tripod anchored in the river ice about 300 feet from shore. When the ice breaks and the tripod falls, the cable tightens and stops the clock.

Cherrie Forness, manager of the Ice Classic, urged people not to wait until the deadline, which falls on Easter this year. Last year, they ran out of tickets even though 3,00,000 were printed. Records were set for ticket sales and the size of the winning pot. Organisers this year printed 3,40,000 tickets.

The ice went out last year at 3.48 pm on April 25. The record-winning pot totalled $363,627 and was split among 25 tickets.
For this time of year, the 35-inch measurement is thinner than average. But it is close to the measurement of 36 inches on March 31 of last year.

The ice is not showing signs of weakness yet. “There has not been any water that we can see, of course,” she said. “It’s still solid from bank to bank.”

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